Testimonial: Zeynab Hashim
I was the JCR Access Officer in my second year at Mansfield and the role really opened my eyes to the impact Mansfield’s access work has on both prospective and current students.
I worked on countless school visits in my time as Access Officer and it always struck me how despite excelling at the academic taster sessions we hosted as part of the visit, the students always seemed to be hesitant about applying to Oxford for very similar reasons. Whether that was due to a fear of not fitting in, of being overworked with no support or being limited by financial difficulties, questions from prospective students always touched upon the same topics.
The school visits hosted by the academic office offered prospective students an opportunity to ask candid questions to current students, many of whom were from a similar background and had shared the same concerns voiced by these students. I think that is one of the best things about the success of Mansfield’s access work. At Mansfield, it’s not just about getting students into the College as part of a box ticking exercise, the tutors and outreach team are constantly trying to ensure that current students are receiving the right kind of support throughout their time at the College. The result of this is that current students from these backgrounds have genuine stories to share with prospective students about how supportive and inclusive the College really is.
When students asked me about fitting in, I could tell them that as a first-generation student from a state school, I felt incredibly happy and comfortable studying at Mansfield. When students asked about the academic challenges, I could tell them about the tutors who were willing to schedule extra tutorials because I was finding a particular topic difficult. When students asked about financial difficulties, I could tell them about the multiple grants and bursaries Mansfield offers to its students.
I thought it was great that school visits were always full of current Mansfield students who were eager to share their stories and dispel the misconceptions many prospective students had about studying at Oxford. These experiences were always genuine, and I think it’s clear from the amount of students who applied to the College because they met someone at Mansfield who changed their mind about Oxford, just how powerful meeting students, and even tutors, from a similar background to you can be.